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Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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Title: Indianapolis Motor Speedway  
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Subject: 2010 IndyCar Series season, American Championship car racing, List of Formula One fatalities, Hendrick Motorsports, Indianapolis 500
Collection: 1909 Establishments in Indiana, Champ Car Circuits, Event Venues Established in 1909, Formula One Circuits, Grand Prix Motorcycle Circuits, Historic Districts in Indiana, Historic Districts on the National Register of Historic Places in Indiana, Indianapolis 500, Indycar Series Tracks, International Race of Champions Tracks, Motorsport in Indianapolis, Indiana, Motorsport Venues in Indiana, Nascar Races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Nascar Tracks, National Historic Landmarks in Indianapolis, Indiana, Pan American Games Opening Ceremony Stadiums, Sports Venues in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States Grand Prix
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The "Brickyard"

Aerial photo of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Location 4790 West 16th Street
Speedway, Indiana 46222
Time zone GMT−5
Capacity 257,325[1]
Owner Hulman and Co.
Operator Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation (subsidiary of Hulman and Co.)
Broke ground March 15, 1909 (March 15, 1909)
Opened August 12, 1909 (August 12, 1909)
Construction cost $3 million
Architect Carl G. Fisher, James A. Allison, F. H. Wheeler, and Arthur Newby
Major events

Verizon IndyCar Series
Indianapolis 500-mile race
Grand Prix of Indianapolis

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Brickyard 400

Red Bull Indianapolis GP
Rectangular oval track
Surface asphalt and brick
Length 2.500 mi (4.023 km)
Turns 4
Banking Turns: 9° 12´
Straights: 0°
Lap record 0:00:37.895; 237.498 mph 382.216 km/h (Arie Luyendyk, Treadway Racing, 1996, IRL IndyCar Series)
Grand Prix road course (2000–2007)
Surface asphalt and brick
Length 2.605 mi (4.192 km)
Turns 13
Lap record 0:01:10.399; 133.546 mph 214.921 km/h (Rubens Barrichello, Scuderia Ferrari, 2004, Formula One)
Grand Prix road course (2008–2013)
Surface asphalt and brick
Length 2.534 mi (4.078 km)
Turns 13
Grand Prix road course (2014–)
Surface asphalt and brick
Length 2.439 mi (3.925 km)
Turns 13
Motorcycle course
Surface asphalt and brick
Length 2.621 mi (4.218 km)
Turns 16
Lap record 0:01:31.619; 101.781 mph 163.800 km/h (Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda, 2013, MotoGP)
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway under construction
Indianapolis Motor Speedway is located in Indiana
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Location 4790 W. 16th St., Speedway, Indiana
Built 1909
Architect Andrews, Park Taliaferro
Architectural style Motor racing circuit
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 75000044[2]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP March 7, 1975
Designated NHLD February 27, 1987[3]

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, located in Downtown Indianapolis.

Constructed in 1909, it is the original speedway, the first racing facility so named. It has a permanent seating capacity estimated at 257,325,[1] with infield seating raising capacity to an approximate 400,000.[5] It is the highest-capacity sports venue in the world.[6]

Considered relatively flat by American standards, the track is a two-and-a-half mile, nearly rectangular oval with dimensions that have remained essentially unchanged since its inception: four 14-mile (400 m) turns, two 58-mile-long (1,000 m) straightaways between the fourth and first turns and the second and third turns, and two 18-mile (200 m) short straightaways, termed "short chutes", between the first and second, and third and fourth turns.

A modern infield road course was constructed between 1998 and 2000, incorporating the western and southern portions of the oval (including the southwest turn) to create a 2.605-mile (4.192 km) track. In 2008, the road course was modified to replace the southwest turn with an additional infield section, for motorcycle use, resulting in a 2.621-mile (4.218 km) course. Altogether, the current grounds have expanded from an original 320 acres (1.3 km2) on which the speedway was first built to cover an area of over 559 acres (2.3 km2). Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987, it is the only such landmark to be affiliated with automotive racing history.

In addition to the Indianapolis 500, the speedway also hosts NASCAR's Brickyard 400. From 2000 to 2007, the speedway also hosted the United States Grand Prix for Formula One. The inaugural USGP race drew an estimated 400,000 spectators, setting a Formula One attendance record. In 2008, the speedway added the Indianapolis motorcycle Grand Prix, a Grand Prix motorcycle racing event.

Since August 19, 1909, 248 automobile races have taken place, with 137 separate drivers winning. As of 2014, Formula One driver Michael Schumacher and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon are tied for the record for most victories among the three major events (Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400 and the F1 USGP), with Schumacher's wins all taking place on the Formula One version of the road course while Gordon holds the record for the traditional oval after winning the 2014 Brickyard 400. A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears each won the Indianapolis 500 four times on the traditional oval, and Jimmie Johnson has also won four times on the oval in the Brickyard 400. No driver to date has won any combination of the three major events, with only two drivers, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve, having competed in all three, with Montoya winning the Indy 500, finishing fourth in the US Grand Prix, and second in the Brickyard 400. Villeneuve also won the Indy 500, had a best finish of fourth in the US Grand Prix, and a 29th place in the Brickyard 400. Johnny Aitken holds the record for total wins at the track, with 15 victories (all on the oval), during the 1909, 1910, and 1916 seasons.[7]

On the grounds of the speedway is the 1987 Pan American Games.


  • History 1
    • Early history 1.1
    • The golden age (1912–1929) 1.2
    • The "junkyard" formula (1930s) 1.3
    • Start of the Hulman era (1940s) 1.4
    • The fabulous roadsters (1950s) 1.5
    • Rear-engine revolution (1960s–1990s) 1.6
    • NASCAR and IROC at Indy 1.7
    • Unification (2000s) 1.8
    • Formula One and road course racing 1.9
    • Motorcycle racing and a new road course 1.10
    • Super Weekend at the Brickyard 1.11
    • Grand Prix of Indianapolis 1.12
    • Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational 1.13
  • Other sporting events held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2
  • Speed records 3
    • Indianapolis 500 3.1
    • Brickyard 400 3.2
    • United States Grand Prix 3.3
    • Red Bull Indianapolis GP 3.4
    • Grand Prix of Indianapolis 3.5
  • Race winners 4
  • Oval dimensions 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Early history

Carl Graham Fisher (1874–1938) of Indiana, an American vehicle parts and highway entrepreneur, co-founder and first president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. May 1909.

Indianapolis businessman Carl G. Fisher first envisioned building the speedway in 1905 after assisting friends racing in France and seeing that Europe held the upper hand in automobile design and craftsmanship. Fisher began thinking of a better means of testing cars before delivering them to consumers. At the time, racing was just getting started on horse tracks and public roads. Fisher noticed how dangerous and ill-suited the makeshift courses were for racing and testing. He also argued that spectators did not get their money's worth, as they were only able to get a brief glimpse of cars speeding down a linear road.[8]

Fisher proposed building a circular track 3 to 5 miles (5 to 8 km) long with smooth 100–150-foot-wide (30–45 m) surfaces. Such a track would give manufacturers a chance to test cars at sustained speeds and give drivers a chance to learn their limits. Fisher predicted speeds could reach up to 120 mph (190 km/h) on a 5-mile (8 km) course. He visited the Brooklands circuit outside of London in 1907, and after viewing the banked layout, it solidified his determination to build the speedway.[8] With dozens of car makers and suppliers in Indiana, Fisher proclaimed, "Indianapolis is going to be the world's greatest center of horseless carriage manufacturer, what could be more logical than building the world's greatest racetrack right here?"[9]

Fisher began looking around the Indianapolis area for a site to build his track; he rejected two potential sites before finding level farmland, Pressley Farm, totaling 328 acres (133 ha) about 5 miles (8 km) outside of Indianapolis. In December 1908, he convinced James A. Allison, Arthur Newby, and Frank W. Wheeler to join him in purchasing the property for $72,000. The group incorporated the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Company on March 20, 1909, with a capitalization of $250,000, with Fisher and James Allison in for $75,000 apiece and Frank Wheeler and Arthur Newby on board for $50,000 each.[8]

Construction of the track started in March 1909. Fisher had to quickly downsize his planned 3-mile (5 km) oval with a 2-mile (3 km) road course to a 2.5-mile (4.0 km) oval to leave room for the grandstands. Reshaping of the land for the speedway took 500 laborers, 300 mules and a fleet of steam-powered machinery. The track surface consisted of graded and packed soil covered by 2 inches (5 cm) of gravel, 2 inches (5 cm) of limestone covered with taroid (a solution of tar and oil), 1–2 inches (3–5 cm) of crushed stone chips that were also drenched with taroid, and a final topping of crushed stone. Workers also constructed dozens of buildings, several bridges, grandstands with 12,000 seats, and an 8-foot (2.4 m) perimeter fence. A white-with-green-trim paint scheme was used throughout the property.[8]

The first event ever held at the speedway was a helium gas-filled balloon competition on Saturday, June 5, 1909, more than two months before the oval was completed.[10] The event drew a reported 40,000 people.[9] Nine balloons lifted off "racing" for trophies; a balloon by the name of Universal City won the race, landing 382 miles (615 km) away in Alabama after spending more than a day aloft.[8] The first motorsport event at the track consisted of seven motorcycle races, sanctioned by the Federation of American Motorcyclists (FAM), on August 14, 1909. This was originally planned as a two-day, 15-race program, but ended before the first day was completed due to concerns over suitability of the track surface for motorcycle use.[7] These early events were largely planned by one of the top names in early auto racing promotion, Ernest Moross, who earned fame for his bold and sometimes outlandish barnstorming events at fairgrounds tracks with racing star Barney Oldfield.

Artist's rendition of the original speedway plan (not an actual picture)

On August 19, 1909, fifteen carmakers' teams arrived at the track for practice. The track surface again became a concern with drivers being covered in dirt, oil, and tar and with ruts and chuckholes beginning to form in the turns. Speedway workers oiled and rolled the track prior to the gates opening to the public. Fifteen to twenty thousand spectators showed up, paying at the most $1 for a ticket. Halfway through the first 250-mile (400 km) event, race leader Louis Chevrolet was temporarily blinded when a stone smashed his goggles. Wilfred Bourque, driving in a Knox, suffered a suspected rear-axle failure resulting in his car flipping end over end on the front stretch before crashing into a fence post. Both he and his mechanic, Harry Halcomb, died at the scene.[8]

The first day of car racing resulted in four finishes and two land speed records, but concerns over safety led AAA officials to consider canceling the remaining events. Fisher promised the track would be repaired by the next day and convinced officials that the show should go on. The second day saw 20,000 spectators, no major incidents, and additional speed records broken.[8]

On the third day of racing, 35,000 spectators showed up to watch the grand finale 300-mile (480 km) race. At 175 miles (282 km) into the race, the right front tire blew on Charlie Merz's car. His car mowed down five fence posts and toppled dozens of spectators. Two spectators and his mechanic, Claude Kellum, were killed in the crash. Ten laps later, driver Bruce Keen struck a pothole and crashed into a bridge support. The race was then halted and the remaining drivers given engraved certificates instead of trophies. The race resulted in the AAA boycotting any future events at the speedway until significant improvements were made.[8]

1909 poster advertising the speedway
Indianapolis Motor Speedway – Automotive Industries, Volume 21 – September 23, 1909

Fisher and his partners began looking into the idea of paving the track with bricks or concrete. Paving in 1909 was still relatively new with only a few miles of public roads paved, leaving little knowledge of what would work best. Traction tests were conducted on bricks, proving they could hold up. Less than a month after the first car races, the repaving project began. Five Indiana manufacturers supplied 3.2 million 10-pound (4.5 kg) bricks to the track. Each was hand laid over a 2-inch (51 mm) cushion of sand, then leveled and the gaps filled with mortar. At the same time, a concrete wall 33 inches (840 mm) tall was constructed in front of the main grandstand and around all four corners to protect spectators.[8] The final brick added to the track was made of gold and laid in a special ceremony by Governor Thomas R. Marshall. Before the work was completed, locals nicknamed the track the "Brickyard".[11] Today, 3 feet (0.91 m), or one yard, of original bricks remain at the start-finish line.[12]

In December 1909, eleven drivers and a few motorcyclists returned for speed trials. Drivers soon reached speeds of up to 112 mph (180 km/h) on the new surface.[8] Racing returned in 1910, with a total of 66 automobile races held during three holiday weekends (Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day).[7] Each weekend featured two or three races of 100 to 200 miles (160 to 320 km), with several shorter contests. Each race stood on its own and earned its own trophy. All races were sanctioned by the AAA (as were the Indianapolis 500 races through 1955). 1910 also saw the speedway host the National Aviation Meet, featuring Wilbur and Orville Wright and highlighted by Walter Brookins setting a world record by taking a plane up to 4,938 feet (1,505 m).[9]

A change in marketing focus led to only one race per year beginning in 1911.[7] An estimated 80,000 spectators attended the first 500-mile (800 km) race on Memorial Day, May 30, 1911. Forty cars competed with Ray Harroun winning at an average speed of 74.602 miles per hour (120.060 km/h). While all the other drivers in the race had a riding mechanic in their car, Harroun decided to save weight and go faster by driving solo. So, to be able to see what was happening behind his No. 32 Marmon "Wasp", he installed a rear-view mirror. It was the first time such a device was used in an automobile.[9]

The golden age (1912–1929)

Advertisement for an Indianapolis Motor Speedway "Harvest Classic" race

A classic race followed in 1912, when Ralph DePalma lost a five lap lead with five laps to go after his car broke down. As DePalma pushed his car around the circuit, Joe Dawson made up the deficit to win. Three of the next four winners were European, with DePalma being the exception as an American national, though originally Italian born. These races gave Indy a worldwide reputation and international drivers began to enter. The 1916 race was shortened to 120 laps, for a number of reasons including a lack of entries from Europe (there were so few entries that the speedway itself entered several cars), a lack of oil, and out of respect for the war in Europe.[9]

On September 9, 1916, the speedway hosted a day of short racing events termed the "Harvest Classic", composed of three races held at 20-, 50-, and 100-mile (32, 80 and 160 km) distances.[13][14][15] In the end, Johnny Aitken, in a Peugeot, would win all three events, his final victories at the facility. The Harvest Classic contests were the last races other than the Indianapolis 500 to be held on the grounds for seventy-eight years.

Racing was interrupted in 1917–1918 by World War I, when the facility served as a military aviation repair and refueling depot. When racing resumed, speeds quickly increased.

In 1921, speedway co-founder Wheeler committed suicide.[16]

At the 1925 event, Pete DePaolo became the first to average 100 mph (160 km/h) for the race,[9] with a speed of 101.13 mph (162.75 km/h).[17]

In 1926, Fisher and Allison were offered "a fortune" for the speedway site by a local real estate developer.[17] They refused, selling instead to former racing driver (and World War One fighter ace) Edward V. Rickenbacker in 1927. How much he paid was not revealed.[18] Rickenbacker built a golf course in the infield.[18] The next year, Allison died from pneumonia.[18]

The "junkyard" formula (1930s)

With the Great Depression hitting the nation, the purse dropped from a winners share of $50,000 and a total of $98,250 in 1930 to $18,000 and $54,450 respectively. There is a common misconception the rules were "dumbed down" to what was called the "junkyard formula" to allow more entries during the depression. The rules were indeed changed, but it was due to an effort by the speedway to get more car manufacturers involved in the race by discouraging the entry of specialized racing machines which dominated the 500 during the mid- to late-'20s. The rule changes, in fact, were already being laid out before the market crash.

In 1931, Dave Evans performed a remarkable feat when his Cummins Diesel Special completed the entire 500 miles without a pit stop.[19] It was also the first diesel entrant.

In 1933, a record 42 cars started the 500. For 1934, a maximum fuel consumption limit was imposed, 45 US gal (37 imp gal; 170 l).[19] It became 42.5 US gal (35.4 imp gal; 161 l) in 1935 and 37.5 US gal (31.2 imp gal; 142 l) in 1936.[19] When the limits saw several top competitors running out of fuel in the closing stages, the limits were abandoned,[19] though the use of pump gasoline was still mandatory.[19]

By the early 1930s, rising race speeds began to make the track increasingly dangerous, and in the period 1931–1935 there were 15 fatalities. This forced another repavement, with tarmac replacing the bricks in parts of the track. In addition, during the 1935–36 seasons the inside wall was removed in the corners, the angle of the outside wall in relation to the track was changed to keep cars from launching over, hard crash helmets became mandatory, and the first yellow light system was devised around the track. The danger of the track during this period, however, did not stop Louis Meyer or Wilbur Shaw from becoming the first two three-time winners, with Shaw also being the first back-to-back winner in 1939 and 1940.[9]

Start of the Hulman era (1940s)

The IMS wing and wheel logo has been used since 1909. This variation was used from the 1970s through 2008.

At the beginning of the 1940s, the track required further improvements. In 1941, about a third of "Gasoline Alley" (the garage area) burned down before the race. With U.S. involvement in World War II, the 1942 500-mile race was cancelled in December, 1941. Late in 1942, a ban on all auto racing led to the canceling of the 500-mile race for the rest of the war, for a total of three years (1942–1945). The track was more or less abandoned during the war and fell into a state of disrepair.[9]

Many of the locals conceded that the speedway would be sold after the war and become a housing development. With the end of the war in sight, on November 29, 1944, three-time 500 winner Wilbur Shaw came back to do a 500-mile (800 km) tire test approved by the government for Firestone. Shaw was shocked at the dilapidated state of the speedway and contacted owner Eddie Rickenbacker, only to discover that it was for sale. Shaw then sent out letters to the automobile industry to try to find a buyer. All the responses indicated that the speedway would be turned into a private facility for the buyer. Shaw then looked around for someone to buy the speedway, who would reopen the racetrack as a public venue. He found Terre Haute businessman Tony Hulman. Meetings were set up and the speedway was purchased on November 14, 1945. Though not officially acknowledged, the purchase price for the speedway was reported by the Indianapolis Star and News to be $750,000. Major renovations and repairs were made at a quick pace to the frail speedway, in time for the 1946 race. Since the record 42 cars that started the 1933 edition of the 500, the field size has been set at 33 drivers, with only three exceptions to this rule, the first being 1947, when only 30 cars started due to a strike by certain teams affiliated with the ASPAR drivers, owners and sponsors association.[9]

Since then the speedway has continued to grow. Stands have been built and remodeled many times over, suites and museums were added, and many other additions helped bring back Indy's reputation as a great track.[9]

The fabulous roadsters (1950s)

In the 1950s, cars were topping out at 150 mph (240 km/h), helping to draw more and more fans. The low-slung, sleek cars were known as roadsters and the Kurtis, Kuzma, and Watson chassis dominated the field. Nearly all were powered by the Offenhauser, or "Offy", engines. The crowd favorite Novi, with its unique sound and look, was the most powerful car of the decade that dominated time trials. However, they would never make the full 500 miles (800 km) in first place, often breaking down before the end or having to make too many pit stops because of the massive engine's thirst for fuel and the weight that went with the extra fuel.[9]

The track’s reputation improved so much that the 500-mile race became part of the Formula One World Championship for 10 years (1950–1960), even though none of the Indy drivers raced in Formula One and only Ferrari's Alberto Ascari of the F1 drivers at the time raced in the 500 in 1952. Five time world champion Juan Fangio practiced at the speedway in 1958, but ultimately decided against racing there. The 1950s were also the most dangerous era of American racing. Of the 33 drivers to qualify for the 1953 race, nearly half, 16, were to eventually die in racing accidents.[9]

Rear-engine revolution (1960s–1990s)

Starting line, featuring the Yard of Bricks
The pylon from 1994 until the 2014 SVRA vintage races in June. It was replaced by a video screen for the 2014 Kroger Super Weekend.

In October 1961, the final remaining brick sections of the track were paved over with asphalt, with the exception of a distinct three-foot-wide line of bricks at the start-finish line. The "Brickyard" thus became known for its "Yard of Bricks". After being widely ignored by Formula One drivers when it was an F1 World Championship event, a wave of F1 drivers went to the speedway in the 1960s, and the rear-engine revolution that was started by the Cooper F1 team changed the face of the 500 as well, with 1959 and 1960 world drivers' champion Jack Brabham of Australia qualifying his Cooper in 13th for the 1961 race. The Cooper used a smaller (2.7 liter) and less powerful Coventry Climax engine compared to the 4.4 liter Offy engines used by the other 32 cars and was slower on the straights, but many took note of the British car's superior handling through the turns. Brabham qualified 17th and after running as high as third, would ultimately finish ninth after completing all 200 laps. Despite this, many doubters claimed the rear-engine cars were for drivers who liked to be pushed around, though as Brabham said "It started the rear-engined revolution at Indy".

A. J. Foyt, who had won his first 500 in 1961, won the 1964 Indianapolis 500, which was the last ever win for a front-engine car, and since Jim Clark's win driving the rear-engine Lotus 38 in 1965, every winner has driven a rear-engine car. Graham Hill won the following year in his first attempt, eventually becoming the only driver to date to achieve auto racing's "Triple Crown of Motorsport" of winning the Monaco Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500, and Le Mans 24 Hours. There were enough Americans to compete with them, with A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, and the Unser brothers Bobby and Al leading the charge in the 1960s and 1970s, of whom Foyt and Al Unser would eventually become, respectively, the first two of three drivers, to date, to win four times each, while Bobby Unser won the race three times, with Andretti only ever winning the race once, in 1969. Andretti would go on to race in F1 and win the world championship in 1978 with Team Lotus, who had been the first rear-engine winners at Indy, with Clark, in 1965.[9]

From 1970 to 1981, Indianapolis had a twin in the city of Ontario, California, by the name of the Ontario Motor Speedway. This track was known as the "Indianapolis of the West" and the home of the California 500, but was a financial failure due to poor management and not holding enough races on the racetrack.[9]

In the 1977 Indy 500, Janet Guthrie made history when she became the first female driver to qualify for the race. Guthrie started the race from 18th position but retired with timing gear failure after 27 laps. She was eventually classified 29th. Nineteen-seventy seven also saw A.J. Foyt make history when he became the first driver to win the race four times.

Nineteen-seventy nine saw the second exception to the 1934 33-driver field rule. By the late 1970s there arose some resistance from certain car owners and drivers as to the direction being taken by

  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway – Official website
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway race results at Racing-Reference
  • BBC's circuit guide
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway Page on
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway from Indianapolis, a National Park Service Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway Collection
  • Historic Purpose Built Grand Prix Circuits on Google Maps

External links

  1. ^ a b Study puts Indy's capacity at 257,325 – USA Today – 5/27/2004
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ and Accompanying two photos from 1985
  5. ^ List of stadiums with 100,000 plus capacity
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b c d ; Indiana Reflections; 2005; ISBN 0-9766149-0-1.INDY: Racing Before the 500Scott, D. Bruce;
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Dill, Mark; "A Forgotten Classic;" 2006 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard Official Program; Indianapolis Motor Speedway; 2006.
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Kettlewell, Mike. "Indianapolis: The Richest Race in the World", in Northey, Tom, ed. World of Automobiles (London: Orbis, 1974), Volume 9, p.1014.
  17. ^ a b Kettlewell, p.1014.
  18. ^ a b c Kettlewell, p.1015.
  19. ^ a b c d e Kettlewell, Mike. "Indianapolis: The Richest Race in the World", in Northey, Tom, ed. World of Automobiles (London: Orbis, 1974), Volume 9, p.1015.
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b c
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^


  • Donald Davidson – historian of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
  • Ron McQueeney – former IMS Director of Photography from 1977 until 2011

See also

Region Number Distance Width Banking
Long straightaways 2 0.625 miles (1.006 km) 50 feet (15 m)
Short straightaways 2 0.125 miles (0.201 km) 50 feet (15 m)
Turns 4 0.250 miles (0.402 km) 60 feet (18 m) 9°12'
Total/average   2.5 miles (4.0 km) 54 feet (16 m) 3°3'

Oval dimensions

Race winners

Type Distance Date Driver Time Average speed
(1 lap)
2.439 miles (3.925 km) May 9, 2014 Scott Dixon 0:01:10.4654 124.606 mph (200.534 km/h)
(1 lap)
2.439 miles (3.925 km) May 9, 2014 Sebastián Saavedra 0:01:23.8822 104.675 mph (168.458 km/h)
(1 lap)
2.439 miles (3.925 km) May 10, 2014 Scott Dixon 0:01:10.4062 124.711 mph (200.703 km/h)
(82 laps)
190.165 miles (306.041 km) May 10, 2014 Simon Pagenaud 2:04:24.0261 127.173 mph (204.665 km/h)
* All-time track record, IMS reconfigured (2014) road course

Grand Prix of Indianapolis


Type Distance Date Rider Time Average speed
(1 lap)
2.621 miles (4.218 km) August 17, 2012 Dani Pedrosa 0:01:39.783 94.561 mph (152.181 km/h)
(1 lap)
2.621 miles (4.218 km) August 18, 2012 Dani Pedrosa 0:01:38.813 95.489 mph (153.675 km/h)
(1 lap)
2.621 miles (4.218 km) August 19, 2012
(Lap 15)
Dani Pedrosa 0:01:39.088 95.214 mph (153.232 km/h)
(28 laps)
73.388 miles (118.107 km) August 19, 2012 Dani Pedrosa 0:46:39.631 94.368 mph (151.871 km/h)
* All-time track record, IMS reconfigured (2008) road course

Red Bull Indianapolis GP

Type Distance Date Driver Time Average speed
(1 lap)
2.605 miles (4.192 km) June 19, 2004 Rubens Barrichello 0:01:09.454 135.025 mph (217.302 km/h)
(1 lap)
2.605 miles (4.192 km) June 19, 2004 Rubens Barrichello 0:01:10.223 133.546 mph (214.921 km/h)
(1 lap)
2.605 miles (4.192 km) June 20, 2004 Rubens Barrichello 0:01:10.399 133.207 mph (214.376 km/h)
(73 laps)
190.165 miles (306.041 km) June 19, 2005 Michael Schumacher 1:29:43.181 127.173 mph (204.665 km/h)
* All-time track record, IMS original (2000–2007) road course

United States Grand Prix

Type Distance Date Driver Time Average speed
(1 lap)
2.5 miles (4.0 km) July 26, 2014 Kevin Harvick 0:00:47.647 188.889 mph (303.987 km/h)
(1 lap)
2.5 miles (4.0 km) August 7, 2005 Tony Stewart 0:00:50.099 179.641 mph (289.104 km/h)
(160 laps) *
400 miles (640 km)* August 5, 2000 Bobby Labonte 2:33:55.979 155.912 mph (250.916 km/h)
* The 2004 and 2015 races were extended,
due to NASCAR's green-white-checker rule.

Brickyard 400

Type Distance Date Driver Time Average speed
Laps Miles
Practice 1 2.5 miles (4.0 km) May 10, 1996 Arie Luyendyk 0:00:37.616 239.260 mph (385.052 km/h)
Qualifying 1 2.5 miles (4.0 km) May 12, 1996 Arie Luyendyk 0:00:37.895 237.498 mph (382.216 km/h)
Qualifying 4 10 miles (16 km) May 12, 1996 Arie Luyendyk 0:02:31.908 236.986 mph (381.392 km/h)
Race 1 2.5 miles (4.0 km) May 26, 1996 Eddie Cheever 0:00:38.119 236.103 mph (379.971 km/h)
Race 200 500 miles (800 km) May 26, 2013 Tony Kanaan 2:40:03.4181 187.433 mph (301.644 km/h)

Indianapolis 500

Speed records

Since 2009, the speedway has hosted United States Auto Club quarter midget racing on an infield oval, called the "Battle at the Brickyard".

During the three-year centennial era, announced on May 23, 2008, special festivities which included a balloon festival to commemorate the first event, was held at two of the major races at the speedway, the Indianapolis 500, and the Brickyard 400. In February 2012, the facility was used to host events during the week of Super Bowl XLVI, which was held in Indianapolis.[35]

At the 1987 Pan American Games, the speedway hosted the opening ceremonies and the speed roller skating competition.[34]

From 1960 to 1968, the Speedway Golf Course, originally built in 1929, hosted a PGA Tour event, the 500 Festival Open Invitation, in conjunction with Indy 500 race week. In 1968, it also held an LPGA event. From 1991 to 1993, the course was demolished and changed from a 27-hole layout (18 holes outside, nine in the infield) to an 18-hole championship course designed by legendary golf architect Pete Dye. The new course, renamed the "Brickyard Crossing Golf Resort" features 14 holes outside, and four holes in the infield, along with an infield lake. A Champions Tour event, the Brickyard Crossing Championship, was hosted there from 1994 to 1999.[33]

Since 1977, the city of Indianapolis has hosted a half marathon, which includes one lap around the speedway. Known as the "OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon", it usually starts the official events that occur prior to the Indy 500.

This logo was used to commemorate the track's centennial celebration from 2009–2012, drawing on elements from 1909, 1933, and 1961.

Other sporting events held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational, held three weeks after the Indianapolis 500, is an event featuring over 500 vintage race cars using the road course. The races are sponsored by the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association.[32]

Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational

On October 1, 2013, details of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, an additional race for the 2014 IndyCar season and beyond, were announced. The inaugural event was scheduled for May 8–10, 2014 on the newly reconfigured 2.439-mile (3.925 km), 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (a chicane replaces the long curve in turns five through seven) and the Snake Pit section is included. Spectator mounds were modified, along with special grandstand seating arrangements. This IndyCar road race began the month of May, with practice for the 2014 Indy 500 starting the day after the race. It was televised live by ABC TV.[31]

Grand Prix of Indianapolis

The NASCAR races taking place on the oval include the Xfinity Series Indiana 250 on Saturday and the Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 on Sunday.

Kroger Super Weekend is held in late July, with events building up to the annual NASCAR Brickyard 400. Races on the combined road course include TUDOR United Sports Car Championship Brickyard Grand Prix and IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Brickyard Sports Car Challenge

Super Weekend at the Brickyard

[30] The first Moto GP event was heavily affected by the arrival of the remnants of

Modifications approved by the FIA and FIM were made to the former Formula One circuit, bringing the new track to a total of 16 turns. The motorcycle course runs anti-clockwise, in the same direction as the oval events at the speedway, and completely bypass the banking of the oval with a new infield section inside turn one ("Snake Pit Complex"). Also, the double-hairpin at the Hulman Straight was replaced with traditional esses. This construction was completed before the opening day of the 92nd Indianapolis 500 in May, 2008.[29] The layout can be run clockwise (for car use, with or without the Snake Pit Complex) or anti-clockwise (for motorcycle use, with the Snake Pit Complex).

On July 16, 2007, the speedway announced that it would host a round of Grand Prix motorcycle racing beginning in 2008. The race was held for the first time on September 14, 2008, backed by Red Bull and known as the "Red Bull Indianapolis GP". This marked the first motorcycle racing event at the facility since its first month of operation, in August 1909.

Moto GP Grand Prix layout

Motorcycle racing and a new road course

On September 26, 2013, IndyCar officials announced that the road course would host an IndyCar race in 2014 on the opening weekend of the Indianapolis 500.[27] The race, known as the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, was held on May 10 on a modified version of the road course. The track's length was changed to 2.439 miles (3.925 km).[28]

On July 12, 2007, it was announced that Formula One would not return to the IMS for 2009, but no deal was made for a future race in Indianapolis.[25] In a statement on April 10, 2008, Indianapolis chairman Joie Chitwood said that the "door is open" for Formula One to return to the circuit.[26] However, on May 25, 2010, it was announced that Formula One would return to the United States in 2012 at a new purpose-built track in Austin, Texas.

During the 2006 United States Grand Prix, Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone said that it did not matter to him whether or not there was a Grand Prix in America, but also said he would be happy to discuss a new contract for the race. There was also a rumor going around that in future seasons, there would be two Grands Prix held in the United States. Even with Ecclestone's statements, the 2007 calendar was confirmed on October 31, 2006, following an extension of the race contract into 2007.[24]

The perceived outrage of this event put the future of Formula One at Indianapolis in doubt. However, the following year's event was held on July 2, 2006, on the American Fourth of July weekend, with American Scott Speed driving for the new Scuderia Toro Rosso team. Speed had become the first American in Formula One since Michael Andretti drove for McLaren in 1993. In this race, Speed became the first American to compete in a United States Grand Prix since Eddie Cheever in 1989.[23]

[23] The

The short history of the event is littered with controversies. The 2002 United States Grand Prix was marred by a bizarre ending, in which Michael Schumacher, having already clinched the championship, seemingly tried to stage a dead heat with team-mate Rubens Barrichello. The official timings showed Barrichello ahead by 0.011 seconds at the line, leading fans and media to dub the event a farce.[23] The 2002 race was also the first ever Formula One race to use SAFER barriers.

The Grand Prix road course, unlike the oval, is raced in a clockwise direction. This follows the general practice of Formula One, in which the vast majority of circuits at the time ran clockwise (at the time, only Interlagos and Imola ran anti-clockwise).

Cars wind through the infield section at the start of the 2003 United States Grand Prix.

In 1998, Tony George arranged for Formula One to return to the US for the first time since 1991. Two years of renovation and new construction for an Indy-based road course led to the first United States Grand Prix there in 2000, a race which was a success. The 2001 event's success (185,000 fans were reported in attendance) was even more important with the race, originally held in September, being the largest international sporting event held in the United States after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.[22]

The 2000 United States Grand Prix was the first event at IMS to be held clockwise.
Formula One Grand Prix layout

Formula One and road course racing

In the 100th anniversary year of the construction of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Hélio Castroneves became the sixth three-time winner of the 500 in the 2009 Indianapolis 500. Danica Patrick also had her best finish ever (third place) in the race, also the best finish ever by a woman in the history of the Indianapolis 500.[9]

In mid February, 2008, Champ Car filed for bankruptcy. In late February, an agreement was reached for Champ Car to be merged with the IRL, and the first IRL IndyCar Series season since the unification took place in 2008. Scott Dixon, driving for Chip Ganassi Racing, became the first native of New Zealand to win, in the 2008 Indianapolis 500.[9]

Sam Hornish Jr. became the first driver to ever overtake for the lead on the race's final lap, ultimately winning the 2006 Indianapolis 500 in the last 450 feet (140 m) by a 0.0635-second margin over rookie Marco Andretti. Dario Franchitti became the first native of Scotland since Jim Clark's victory in 1965 to win, in the rain-shortened 2007 Indianapolis 500.[9]

Buddy Rice became the first American driver since 1998 to win the race in the rain-shortened 2004 Indianapolis 500. At the time, Rice drove for the team co-owned by 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal and the Indiana native television talk show host and comedian David Letterman. In 2005, Danica Patrick became the first female driver to lead the race at Indianapolis, after acquiring it for a lap near the 125-mile (200 km) mark while cycling through pit stops. Dan Wheldon would go on to win the 2005 Indianapolis 500.[9]

In 2003, the Firestone Indy Lights Series, a minor league series to the IndyCar Series, made history with the first May race at the track since 1910, other than the 500. The Freedom 100, first held during the final qualifying weekend, has been moved to "carburetion day" on the Friday before the 500. From 2005–2007, the Firestone Indy Lights Series became the first racing series since 1916 to run at the race course twice in one year. The first event being the Freedom 100, held on the oval track as part of the Indianapolis 500 weekend, and the second event, the Liberty Challenge, during the United States Grand Prix weekend, competing on the Grand Prix road course.[21]

Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles at the 2015 Indianapolis 500.

The early 2000s saw drivers from the rival CART series begin to cross over to compete at the Indianapolis 500. In the 2000 Indianapolis 500, multiple CART champion team Chip Ganassi Racing brought their drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Jimmy Vasser to Indianapolis. Montoya qualified second, led 167 laps and won the race convincingly, becoming the seventh Indy 500 rookie to win the race. The next year, Team Penske made its return to the Indianapolis 500 after a five-year absence and was joined by Ganassi, Walker Racing and Michael Andretti, driving for Team Kool Green in a separate effort headed by Kim Green, known as "Team Motorola". For the second straight year, an Indy rookie won the race as Hélio Castroneves took the checkered flag. Roger Penske then elected to move his entire operation over to the IRL beginning in 2002, taking Castroneves and teammate Gil de Ferran with him. After fielding one car in 2002, Ganassi Racing followed Penske to the IRL full-time for the 2003 season. Michael Andretti, who had left his long-time ride at Newman-Haas Racing because he wanted to run the Indianapolis 500 again (something they were not willing to do), bought a majority interest in CART's Team Green, which returned to Indianapolis in 2002 with Dario Franchitti, Paul Tracy and Michael Andretti, and moved it to the IRL that same year as Andretti Green Racing, and in 2004 former CART champion Bobby Rahal's operation moved to the IRL as Rahal Letterman Racing. Castroneves repeated his Indianapolis 500 win in 2002 despite controversial circumstances involving a late race caution and a pass made by Tracy, and his teammate de Ferran won in 2003.[9]

Unification (2000s)

race has also been held at IRP. Camping World Truck Series event which, since the Brickyard 400 in 1994, has been held the night prior to the IMS event. Since 1995, a NASCAR Xfinity Series has held a Indianapolis Raceway ParkStarting in 2012, the Brickyard 400 was supported by both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and also the Grand-Am Rolex Series. From 1998–2003, an IROC event was held as a support race. Since 1982, nearby
Basic map of speedway

From 1919 to 1993, the 500 was the only race run at the Brickyard. When NASCAR in 1994 (the Brickyard 400, known from 2005 to 2009 as the Allstate 400 at The Brickyard), and an International Race of Champions (IROC) event in 1998.[9]

NASCAR and IROC at Indy

There was another qualifying controversy in 1997, arising over the IRL's "25/8 rule" which locked the previous year's top-25 overall points finishers into the Indianapolis race, regardless of their qualifying speed, leaving only eight spots open for entries to qualify on speed alone. The rule effectively guaranteed that IRL cars would get precedence over CART cars in the qualifying for the Indy 500. Two CART drivers who posted qualifying speeds fast enough to make the race were bumped to make room for slower IRL cars with more 1996 racing points. USAC complained to the IRL that the field would not include the 33 fastest cars. It was decided to add the two cars, driven by Johnny Unser and Lyn St. James, back into the field, once again bringing the number of starters to 35. This marked the last time the 500's starting field has been larger than 33 drivers.

The early 1990s witnessed Arie Luyendyk winning in what was then the fastest 500 to date, with an average speed of 185.981 mph (299.307 km/h). That record was not eclipsed for almost a quarter of a century, until Tony Kanaan won the 2013 race with an average speed of over 187 mph (301 km/h). Rick Mears became the third four-time winner after a late-race duel with Michael Andretti in 1991, and in 1992, Al Unser, Jr. eked out a hard-fought victory by defeating last-place-starting driver Scott Goodyear by 0.043 of a second, a margin that is still the closest finish in race history. The 500 got a new look in 1996 when it became an Indy Racing League event, formed as a rival to CART.[9]

The 1980s brought a new generation of speedsters, led by four-time race winner Rick Mears who also broke the 220 mph (355 km/h) speed mark in qualifying (1989) and won six pole positions. Other stars of the decade included Danny Sullivan, Bobby Rahal, and F1 veteran Emerson Fittipaldi. The 1989 race came down to a final ten-lap, thrilling duel between Fittipaldi and Al Unser, Jr., culminating in Unser crashing in the third turn of the 199th lap after making contact with Fittpaldi's right front tire.[9]


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